We had the good fortune of connecting with Page Burch and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Page, can you tell us about an impactful book you’ve read and why you liked it or what impact it had on you?
The Anarchist’s Tool Chest is a book written by Christopher Schwarz that totally changed my outlook on making. Despite its title, it has nothing to do with societal collapse or overthrowing the government. Rather, it is a book that is meant to change the way people view the objects they purchase or make and the impacts that objects and consumerism are having on society. In it Schwarz describes how over the course of the past century objects have gone from hand-made, largely heirloom-quality things, to cheaply made, mass-produced goods that are not meant to last. These things further perpetuate a cycle of poorly-crafted, throw-away culture. The book describes putting together a tool chest, and the tools used to do so, that can be the start of an individuals personal journey towards breaking that cycle and creating lasting objects with their own hands. I found this book very impactful because as a maker, I found myself buying into this consumer culture that I had problems with. It forced me to look at my views and impacts on society, what I purchase, why I purchase, etc. I found myself using the skills that I possessed to start making more of the things I needed. I began making more furniture, making some of my own tools, and so on. It really forced me to adopt the idea that I need to start using my skills as much as I possibly can, and that when I make something, it is not worth making if I do not try to make it as perfectly as possible.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I currently work in the School of Art and Design at Kennesaw State University. I run the Master Craftsman Program, which is a program in which students work with clients in the community to design and create public art. Students are given an opportunity to learn what it is like to work in a professional setting while still in school, and it helps to fill in any gaps in their knowledge that other curriculum might leave. In the past three years, we have put over twenty-five sculptures into the community in Kennesaw and Acworth. These pieces range from monumental memorial sculptures, to sculptural benches, shade structures, and custom cast iron manhole covers. We have many projects lined up over the course of the next several years, and have great buy-in from students who get to see their artwork in the community. It has been a long road, but the community has embraced the program and we consistently get positive feedback about the artworks we produce. It has been a wonderful testament to our program that people are so pleasantly surprised that students can design and create such interesting and well=made pieces of artwork. For the students, it is exciting to see their works out in their community and know that they will be their long after they are gone.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
There are some wonderful places in the north metro Atlanta area. Selfishly, I would have to take this person to see all of the artworks that the Master Craftsman program has produced in the area. Along the way we could stop at Tacos Del Chavo for some authentic Mexican street tacos, The Red Eyed Mule for some killer burgers, and Burnt Hickory Brewery for some excellent punk rock-inspired beers. There are some excellent recreation spots in the area, too. Kennesaw Mountain offers some excellent hiking, and Red Top Mountain State Park has tons of great outdoor activities, including hiking, camping, boating, and a monthly iron pour near the Visitor’s Center.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
The Sloss Metal Arts Program, located at Sloss Furnaces National Historic Landmark in Birmingham, Alabama has been extremely influential in helping me get to where I am today. It helped to energize me as a creative person and started me on my path as a make and an educator. They offer classes and mentorship opportunities to a wide variety of people, including a very successful youth arts program every summer. They also host the National Conference on Contemporary Cast Iron Art and Practices every two years, where people from all over the world come to learn about the process of iron casting. Had I not gone to one of these conferences that the Metal Arts Program puts on, I can honestly say that I do not think I would have made it to where I am now.
Morgan Lugo, Chris Dziejowski, Geo Sipp, Page Burch